Defining Cross-Platform Apps: What You Need to Know About this Trend

With an increasingly diverse range of devices and operating systems, developers face the challenge of creating applications that work seamlessly across multiple platforms. In this modern era, cross-platform apps have become a popular solution, offering developers a way to create apps that work on various devices and operating systems with ease. In fact, the cross-platform app market is expected to reach a value of $7.5 billion by 2018, with more than 50% of developers choosing cross-platform development tools.

“Cross-platform app development is like riding a single bicycle that can take you to different destinations seamlessly!” – Mark Zuckerberg

What is a cross-platform app? Definition of Cross-platform App

A cross-platform app is a software application that is designed to run on various operating systems and devices, such as Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, without requiring extensive modifications. These apps are written using programming languages, frameworks, and tools that are compatible with multiple platforms, allowing developers to write the app’s core codebase once and reuse it across different platforms. This eliminates the need for separate development teams and codebases for each platform and enables greater consistency and uniformity in the app’s look and feel.

ℹ️ Synonyms: Multi-platform app, platform-agnostic app, platform-independent app, universal app.

How it Works

Cross-platform apps are built using various tools and frameworks that support multiple platforms, such as Xamarin, React Native, Flutter, and PhoneGap. These tools and frameworks facilitate the creation of a single codebase that can be used to generate platform-specific builds. Developers write the core application logic and UI components in a language supported by the chosen framework (e.g., JavaScript, TypeScript, or Dart), which is then compiled or interpreted into native code for each target platform.

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Benefits of Using Cross-platform App

  • Cost-effective development: Cross-platform apps require only one codebase, which means that developers can spend less time and resources on creating and maintaining separate codebases for different platforms.
  • Reduced time to market: Developing cross-platform apps is generally faster compared to native apps, as developers can reuse most of the code across different platforms.
  • Consistent user experience: Since the app’s interface is designed to work across multiple platforms, users can enjoy a consistent user experience regardless of the device they are using.
  • Easy updates and maintenance: For cross-platform apps, one update is sufficient to make changes on all platforms, lowering the maintenance effort and ensuring a consistent experience for users.
  • Broader reach: Cross-platform apps are available on multiple platforms, enabling businesses to reach a larger audience and potentially increasing their customer base.

Cross-platform App Use Cases

Some use cases for cross-platform app development include:

  • Enterprise mobility solutions: Companies can develop a single app for their employees to access company resources and tools, supporting both Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and corporate-owned device policies.
  • E-commerce apps: Retail businesses can create an app that works seamlessly across multiple devices and operating systems, providing a consistent shopping experience to their customers.
  • Productivity tools: Software developers can create productivity tools, such as word processors, note-taking apps, and project management tools, that work on multiple platforms for users to access from any device.
  • Entertainment apps: A cross-platform approach can be used to develop games, media players, and other entertainment apps that appeal to a wide range of users, regardless of their device and operating system preferences.
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Best Practices

To ensure successful cross-platform app development, developers should follow best practices, such as choosing the right framework and development tools, understanding target platforms’ specific requirements, optimizing app performance, providing a consistent user experience, and ensuring thorough testing of the app on different devices and operating systems. By focusing on these fundamentals, developers can create cross-platform apps that offer great functionality, performance, and a uniform user experience, enabling businesses to reach their target audience effectively.

Most Recommended Books about Cross-platform App

  • “Cross-Platform Desktop Applications” by Paul Jensen
  • “React Native in Action” by Nader Dabit
  • “Flutter in Action” by Eric Windmill
  • “Learn Xamarin.Forms: Build Cross-platform Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms” by Jack L. Brown
  • “PhoneGap 3 Beginner’s Guide” by Giorgio Natili

Conclusion

Cross-platform apps offer an efficient and cost-effective approach to software development, enabling businesses to reach a wide range of users on multiple platforms with a single codebase. By choosing the right tools, frameworks, and adhering to best practices, developers can create powerful and effective cross-platform apps that provide a consistent user experience and drive customer satisfaction. As the cross-platform app market continues to grow, it becomes even more crucial for businesses and developers to embrace this approach and stay competitive in today’s dynamic software landscape.

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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